“Mean Girls” 2024: Another timeless classic?

Is Tina Fey’s modern musical remake of her classic “Mean Girls” movie as fetch as the original?
“Mean Girls” 2024: Another timeless classic?

In the realm of high school drama and social hierarchies, “Mean Girls” (2004) has remained an iconic comedy since its release two decades ago. Fast forward to 2024, and the film makes a comeback with the “Mean Girls” movie musical. Written once again by Tina Fey and inspired by the Broadway production, the movie attempts to offer a musical take on the stereotypical high school experience, with some modern additions.

Periodically, when Hollywood attempts to reimagine well-loved classics — as they have with several Disney movies for the last few years — they don’t usually elicit the same response as the original. Going into this movie, I was a bit skeptical, thinking there was no way they could replicate the acting, humor, or cultural relevance of the first “Mean Girls.” The original film depicted how mean girls acted in 2004, which makes adapting the story for an audience in 2024 challenging. The way a typical mean girl acts in high school has shifted quite a bit, and I felt as though this remake was somewhat fictitious, as the “plastics” are not akin to present day plastics that most modern high schoolers are familiar with. What could have been interesting is showing a more realistic approach to how young generations act as mean girls. Regina George in 2004 was conniving and intimidating. The modern Regina George played by Reneé Rapp, an excellent actress and singer, could have been even better if there were some minor alterations made to the choice of insults and ways she degraded Gretchen (Bebe Wood) rather than it being almost identical to the original. 

The modern Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) depicts a contemporary version of feeling like you’re on the outside and yet simultaneously free from conformity and desire to be well-liked. Fey ensures that Janis’ character still serves as a symbol of platonic love and never fails to remind us that authentic friendship is unbreakable, even if there are cracks along the way. I thought that the way Janis and Damian (Jaquel Spivey) evolved resonated with present times better than the way the plastics evolved. Of course, each character is going to be a bit over the top, especially considering it is also a musical, but Janis and Damians’ songs were easily the best and most well performed, especially how Cravalho drives “I’d Rather Be Me” home to give us more insight on her artistic personality. 

Tina Fey is renowned for her social commentary in the first “Mean Girls” and places a lot of emphasis on how social media has taken control over high schoolers today, when just 20 years ago they still used phones that didn’t have a screen on them, as shown by the iconic four-way call scene that eventually became popular in the 2000’s. Immediately when the movie starts, we are introduced with Janis and Damian filming a TikTok, and as the movie progresses, we see that TikTok serves to be a pastime for the plastics and is the medium in which rumors begin to spread. Characters even go as far as to make memes out of Regina, which I felt was a clever take on how this generation behaves.

The evolution of the Plastics and other key characters showcases Fey’s determination to craft multidimensional characters who grapple with the complexities of adolescence. I did not think the adaptation was horrible; I actually thought that Avantika Vandanapu did a hilarious rendition of Karen and that the design changes to the clothes, houses, and party scenes were well done. I also enjoyed Regina’s car being an orange Jeep Wrangler instead of a silver Lexus convertible and her house being a modern chic mansion with large glass windows. These details helped transform the film to be more relatable to present-day experiences and relative to what Regina’s family might spend their money on in 2024. 

However, I do not think that this will become another timeless classic. In order for it to have the same long-lasting effect, too many changes would need to be made so that it wouldn’t resemble the original Mean Girls well enough to call it a remake. I think that the hardest part to come to grips with if you were someone who enjoyed the original movie is the fact that it is a musical, especially if you never saw the musical production. At times it felt very out of place for them to break out into song, particularly during calculus when Cady starts singing after Aaron looks at her. At other times, though, it fits in quite well. I thought that the songs and dance breaks made the movie feel a bit rushed because that extra screen time wasn’t used for internal dialogue or argumentation, which would have given us more of a feeling of completion upon ending. 

I think there were difficult choices to make when deciding to produce this movie. Do we allow it to accurately reflect the current experience of high schoolers today but completely change everything? Or do we leave some of the behaviors unchanged and keep the iconic one-liners presented in the first movie while including modern-day social media, vehicles, and fashion? These are likely the questions faced when trying to create a remake of anything; it is very challenging to try to maintain the truth of the original but stay relatable to high schoolers two decades later. 

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, even more so that Linsday Lohan made an appearance during the mathletes state championship. The original film made a lasting impact on the generation it was targeted toward as well as subsequent generations who are able to look back and enjoy it. This remake, however, will likely not be as highly regarded as the original, since it was not able to commit to being something wholly unique.

Image courtesy of Teen Vogue

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Lina Mauk, Contributing Writer
Third year Clinical Psychology major. My goal is to continue writing while pursuing a career in therapy! I enjoy taking photos and devoting my time to art projects in my free-time.
More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$200
$500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *